The Emergency Job

When you need money fast

As a writer, there are times that are tough and money just doesn't seem to be flowing in fast enough. It could be clients just aren't paying you or the jobs just aren't out there. It's during these times that I end up doing what I like to call the emergency jobs.


These are jobs that may pay crap, but you get the money right away. It could be you go to a bidding site and bid $3 for 20 500-word articles or hit up some old clients for any writing needs. These days usually happens on Thursday or Friday and go towards things for the weekend. I don't much of a life outside work and home, but I occasionally do like to take my kids out to lunch or to a bowling alley.


The emergency job is glamorous and can be a pain in the butt, but the important thing is the money is fast. Many people like to wait a week or two before paying, even after getting an invoice, but the emergency job requires either money upfront or a very quick turnaround.


Many times the jobs themselves are boring and tedious. It can be as simple as rewriting the same article 10 times or using incredibly awkward SEO in articles for submission services. The client doesn't;t care if the writing is good, only that you're doing the work so he doesn't have to.


If it gets to the point where you're doing emergency jobs every weekend or even in the middle of the week, then you should probably look for a more stable profession.  

That's not what we agreed on

When things go south, fast.

The problem with most writing jobs on the Internet is they are often done on the fly. You reply to a Craigslist ad or something from a writing website and soon you wash in a flurry of e-mails and fast deadlines.

If you are lucky, then you can develop long-standing relationships with people who will come to you again and again. I recently had a person that I've worked with many, many times before contact me. I had never had any issues about completing the project before getting paid.

It's a courtesy I do for some of my clients. We always hammered out the details about when and how much before I started and it never was an issue. Recently, I had completed a project and she sent over a payment significantly less than what we agreed upon.

She said that the person that paid her only gave her that much and that was all she could give me. Needless to say, this didn't sit well. We writers depend on that money because it's part of our income and when it doesn't all come in, then we get put into a bind.

I told her that I needed that money and that if she needed a few more days to get that would be fine. Days turned to weeks, and soon she wasn't even returning my e-mails. It's obvious that she never got the money and didn't want to tell me. About a year goes by and she e-mails me again about a job. I tell her that given the last transaction, I didn't trust her and that I would need the payment up front. That's how we do it from here on out.

Expecting cash for the holidays

Think again; have a backup!

When I first started freelance writing, I always assumed prompt payment from my clients. I mean, it was just how it worked. I did the job, they approved it and soon the money would magically make its way into my PayPal account. Woohoo! We eat for another day.

When the holidays came around such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, I knew I was going to need extra cash. Thanksgiving meant a ton of driving and a ton of gasoline and Christmas is...well...Christmas. My wife has always been a big Black Friday shopper too. As a writer, I found that while job opportunities were plentiful, payment and communication was not on these holidays.

Let's face it: it makes sense. These are people that have their own holiday celebrations to plan, stories to prepare either for closure over the holidays or shopping overload. I was around number 500 on their priority list. It would be a few days before Thanksgiving and I would be broke as a joke, but still have about $500 in unpaid work.

Inevitably, come Monday after Thanksgiving, I would get the e-mails and the money would start flowing in, but Thanksgiving was pretty much ruined. There were a couple years were I couldn't even afford to go to my family's festivities.

Needless to day, the moral of this story is to never count on sudden money from the holidays. Begin making plans weeks or even months before and start putting it away. It's just safer and you won't be left stranded without a turkey.


Writing: The Perfect Pasttime For A Stay At Home Mom

Moms Turn to Blogging For Supportm Camaraderie

When I quit my job about five years ago to be a fulltime at home mom, I didn't realize how much I would miss the daily grind and making contributions to our family. My husband has just got a great new job and we both decided that if I wanted to stay home to take care of the kids, then I could.


After about a year, I really missed the feeling of contributing financially to my family. My husband was 100 percent supportive of me and I loved spending all my times with the kids, but I wanted something more. I thought about getting a part-time job, but that would take me away from the precious time I had with the hubs.


I wanted to do something from home, so I became a freelance writer/ blogger. I started my own blog and built it up using all the tools I could find. I spent many hours scouring webpages looking for ways to build my Twitter and Facebook followers and using my blog posts as clips to perspective clients.


It hasn't been easy, but I've gotten a pretty good stable of clients and I keep searching for more everyday. I write on my schedule, so I can write while the kids are at school or in bed and I can spend that extra time with my husband.


Freelance writing is not an easy profession and it is highly competitive, but its all worth it to feel more than just a stay-at-home-mom.

Getting the Money Upfront

First time customers pay me first

One of the hardest things for a writer to do is recover a payment from a client. If you accept a job, then don't get paid for it, there isn't much you can do. Many times the jobs are Internet based and all interaction is done by e-mail.


The client can be in another state or even another country and you're not going to spend money on a lawyer or collection agency especially if the fee $100 or less. This used to happen to me occasionally and just considered it the cost of doing business.


In fact, many times beginning writers feel like they have no recourse for clients that don't pay except to say you won't work for them anymore. (I have quite a list.) A while back I started requiring a 50-percent deposit from first-time clients.


This served several purposes. It showed them that I was serious about writing and that I'm not to be trifled with. If they send the money, then they have a financial investment in the project and if they don't pay, I at least have half the money.


If they balk, then they probably weren't going to pay me to begin with, so screw them and good luck with another writer. There are some writers that required full payment upfront, but I'm not comfortable with that.


Ultimately, it's your choice, but one way or the other get something upfront. Short projects or long projects doesn't matter. You deserve to have something up front as a good faith payment. It's standard business.

Don't be afraid to say no

Not every job is worth it

When you're first starting out as a professional writer, it's easy to get seduced into saying yes to anything that comes along. You're in it to get experience and a portfolio started, so any job is a good job. Besides you don't know when that next job will come along.

I had this problem for a long time. Any job, big or small, I accepted and pretty soon I was overloaded with a lot of low pay work. Sure, I could make $20, but I needed to write ten 500-word articles. I either ended up spending all day and night working or focusing on the higher pay jobs and promising to pick up the other stuff later.

What ends up happening is you start getting a reputation as someone that can't hit deadlines. That's s death knell in this business. Instead, you have to learn to pick and choose what jobs you take. I am an avid gamer and have done a lot of gaming writing through the years. One day, I saw a listing for a game writer and applied.

I found out they wanted to spend $3 per in-depth article. I told them that I don't write articles of that length for less than $20 and that I would be unable to accept their offer. I'm sure they weren't happy about it, but they should pay writers what they are worth.

Never be ashamed of turning down a job because of pay. You're not there to make them happy at all costs, you're there to provide a service. If they think you're worth it, then they should pay you something comparable.

My first no-pay

Don't sweat the small stuff

When you're a freelance writer who does everything from blogging to website copy, you're bound to come across the occasional person that doesn't want to pay. I was lucky for many years and never had a problem, but then my first no-pay arrived.

He was a carpet salesman who had his own store on the coast and he was looking for some website copy. I found him through Craigslist, a common source for writing work, and after a few e-mails back and forth I took the job.

My first job with a client is always paid in advance. Once I know they pay and have the capability, I tend to simply bill them after the job. Everything started out fine and after my initial job wanted me to continue on doing a few others.

He was able to pay and I thought there wouldn't be a problem. The second job bounced, but after a few days of back and forth I ended up getting paid. He blamed it on a banking snafu. My third job, $60, was never paid.

I completed the work and send him the bill, but never received payment. He stopped responding to my e-mails and eventually his inbox got so full that my messages started getting returned. I was angry, but $60 wasn't that much money and the job itself took only a couple of hours. I knew there wasn't much I could do, so I let it slide.

I sent a final e-mail stating that I would not be working with him again and that I could have called his place of business, but instead choose to cut ties.  

Know your worth

Don't be the cheap writer

I've been a professional freelance writer for about five years now. It took me a long time to figure out my worth in an industry that is overpopulated. It's a fine line between being an affordable writer and being a cheap writer.

When I first started, I didn't really know where to start. I had been a professional journalist for seven years and then marketing for three. It was all brick-and-mortar, so I never actually had to find clients or jobs.

I quickly found out that for many clients, good writing wasn't wanted or required. Bidding sites such as freelancers were offering $1 or $2 for a 500 word article and there were actually people bidding on it. They were mostly from India and other countries that farm these jobs by the hundreds. People that want these type of articles don't want a good article. They just want something that has the right keyword density that Google can index.

I started looking at different writing websites and discovered that there are people out there willing to pay for quality articles and blogs. The jobs I get are varied and often depends on frequency and word count, but I like to average anywhere $10 to $15 for 400-500 words.

I have some clients that pay me much more than that and a few that pay me less, but it all averages out. Am I in the top tier of freelance writers? No. Although, I do have a good steady clientele and have built a reputation for quality work.  

Write a story a day in September

Find out how to join the challenge below.

Need a bit of artistic inspiration for your writing? Feel like you’re in a rut and need some help to get out of it? is presenting an entire month of story writing in September. While the challenge normally is provided every spring, this year there’s an extra challenge in the fall.

To play, you have to join the community and pledge to both write AND finish a story every single day. You can use the given prompts, or you can write whatever you want as long as you follow the rules.

Signing up is completely optional; you can do it here if you want to. You can post your stories on your own blog and link them back by signing up to be on the StoryADay blogroll here. Once you sign up, you can receive more emails about various tools and tricks you can use throughout the month during your journey.

Feel like you can’t make it through a whole month? It’s OK; you can take weekends off if you want. Just be sure to commit to your schedule at the beginning before participation begins. For more information and extra helpful writing blog posts you can participate in, click here.

Check out writers’ markets in your genre

There are new contests and opportunities all of the time.

If you want to branch out in your writing career but you’re not sure where to start, a good idea is to check out various markets in the genres you are interested in. A simple way to do this is to purchase a copy of the annual Writer’s Market guide, which can help you find places to sell your writing all over the place. These books aren’t too expensive (you can always buy a previous year’s version to save money as well, though publishers are constantly changing), or you can check your local library for one.

Of course, there are plenty of places online where you can find various contests, publications accepting submissions, and other places to highlight your work. For example, I love the website Ranlan, which highlights speculative fiction websites that accept submissions. They even present them by which ones pay and which ones don’t, as well as which ones no longer accept submissions. This has been extremely helpful for me and I’ve had several stories and poems published just by using this site’s guidance. Of course, if you don’t write speculative fiction—which includes fantasy, sci-fi, steam punk, and so many other open genres—you may not like that particular site.

If you’re into writing erotica, you might want to check out (warning: this link has adult content) Changeling Press’s Spring Fling writing contest, which has a deadline of July 4. You can always, of course, simply search for writing contests online that you can always enter. Though some of them do cost entry fees, many are completely free.

Then, if you just want exposure and you don’t care about money, there are even more markets available for your work. For example, you can revive your old work at rIgor mort.US; you just submit work that’s already been published elsewhere for them to feature (though it will also be used in various other forms on the site as well). Just make sure your work was featured somewhere in print before submitting it, because that’s all they accept at that particular site.

Websites like FirstWriter offer even more services, such as agent listings, editing services, copyright laws, and more. These can be extremely helpful in times like these, where the writing world is constantly in flux. As eBooks become a more oft-used medium, authors have greater access to publishing—but they may also be easier to take advantage of. Websites like this one can help you keep that from happening.